March 25, 2011

Narcotics Anonymous

When my teacher told us that one of the semester’s assignments was to visit an open NA meeting I sighed, rolled my eyes, and inwardly quipped about state-run education.

Tonight I got it over with- I went to a nearby meeting at the church of a friend’s. It was wildly different than I expected.

Narcotics Anonymous is not a government program. It is comprised entirely of addicts, and specifically of individuals who have come to a place where they realize they are addicts, they realize they have an addiction, and are making steps to overcome that addiction.

There is, of course, not much I can tell you- I respect the spirit of that closely-knit fellowship: what happens in that meeting stays in that meeting.

But I can tell you that as I listened to each individual share their thoughts (on randomly drawn popsicles sticks with principles of the program written on them)- as I heard each of them honestly face the problem of that week, that day, even that very hour- my heart went out to them. I heard them face themselves, talk about guilt and shame, their own selfishness, and recognize the multitude of people they had hurt (including themselves). They had broken families. Broken relationships. Broken careers. Broken hearts. Broken lives. And as each spoke my heart broke- again, and again, and again. I wanted to weep- but I could not add to their pain.

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference."

One particularly interesting saying one person drew went something like, “I can’t. He can. Let him.” They wrestled with “surrendering” to God and his will (and God’s will becoming theirs), even while taking responsibility for their actions.

There they were. Many were still users- maybe only clean for twenty-four hours. A slender few had been clean for years- and still struggled, day by day by day.  I rejoiced over their heart-felt support of one another and their earnest desire to conquer their addiction- to be “at peace and free.” I rejoiced that they recognized that they had to rely on and desperately needed God- knowing that every bit of truth is a means of grace in their lives, and cried that though they be able to will themselves out of addiction- they would remain slaves to sin without Christ.

And there I was- different. But why? I felt lavishly blessed- insurmountably undeserving. Why was I never  tempted, never offered a pill, a single fix? Why did my parents never abandon me? Why was I not there, burning and breaking like they were? 

I had never touched any sort of substance- never even seen any (by God’s grace). I had parents who loved each other, a family crazy about one another (by God’s grace). I had a precious, safe-guarded childhood (by God’s grace). And, true, God rescued me from myself, washed me clean in his blood (by God’s grace) and I am who, what, and where I am today by God’s grace.

             My heart is heavy.

I have been given a perfect life. I have never struggled. I have not been tested to the point of shedding blood.


  1. "I have been given a perfect life. I have never struggled. I have not been tested to the point of shedding blood."

    Yes, I think on this often. It makes me troubled: feel guilty and apprehensive. "To whom much is give much will be required."

    I can only trust that God's grace alone will carry me through the struggles I have not been prepared to face.

  2. That's exactly the verse that comes to my mind as well, Hayley. Amen. I am glad he does not test us beyond our endurance- and yet... I suppose I am rather ashamed that I have not been tested more. But I know he is preparing me! And that his Grace will carry me through when the time comes. :-)